The Other Americans is a complicated narrative focused on the hit-and-run killing of Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant who was crossing the street one evening near his business. As his family grapples with this death and the truths about his life, the police investigate what happened.
Told from multiple points of view–Driss’ family, the investigators, neighboring business owners, and Driss himself–Lailami covers a lot of ground. From family tensions and expectations to prejudices, her story is subtle and nuanced. It’s can be challenging on audio because the characters and storylines were a little hard to track. I enjoyed the audio and recommend it for immersive audiobook listening, but if you find complex listens a challenge, opt for the print version.
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From the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Moor’s Account, here is a timely and powerful novel about the suspicious death of a Moroccan immigrant–at once a family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story, informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture.
Late one spring night, Driss Guerraoui, a Moroccan immigrant living in California, is walking across a darkened intersection when he is killed by a speeding car. The repercussions of his death bring together a diverse cast of characters: Guerraoui’s daughter Nora, a jazz composer who returns to the small town in the Mojave she thought she’d left for good; his widow, Maryam, who still pines after her life in the old country; Efraín, an undocumented witness whose fear of deportation prevents him from coming forward; Jeremy, an old friend of Nora’s and an Iraq War veteran; Coleman, a detective who is slowly discovering her son’s secrets; Anderson, a neighbor trying to reconnect with his family; and the murdered man himself.
As the characters–deeply divided by race, religion, and class–tell their stories, connections among them emerge, even as Driss’s family confronts its secrets, a town faces its hypocrisies, and love, messy and unpredictable, is born.